Living with Shoulder Pain: When Should You See a Specialist?

Shoulder pain is an ailment that can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition. While many people tend to disregard it as a mere inconvenience or a byproduct of overexertion, persistent shoulder pain could be indicative of a more serious underlying issue that warrants medical intervention. In this article, we explore various dimensions of shoulder pain, identifying its causes and signs, and finally answering the critical question—when should you see a specialist?

Understanding the Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder is an intricate structure comprised of three primary bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). These bones are connected by a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, making it one of the most flexible and complex joints in the human body.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can arise from numerous sources, such as:

  • Rotator Cuff Injuries: Caused by strain, repetitive motion, or trauma.
  • Osteoarthritis: Degeneration of the cartilage within the joint.
  • Frozen Shoulder: Stiffness and reduced range of motion.
  • Fractures or Dislocations: Usually from falls or direct impacts.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa sac.
  • Tendonitis: Inflammation or irritation of a tendon.

Recognising the Warning Signs

It’s crucial to identify the warning signs that suggest a visit to a specialist is imperative:

  • Persistent Pain: Lasting longer than a few weeks despite home treatment.
  • Intense Pain: Severe discomfort even without movement.
  • Limited Mobility: Difficulty in lifting objects or performing daily activities.
  • Nocturnal Pain: Pain that disrupts sleep.
  • Visible Deformity: Any abnormalities in the structure of the shoulder.

What To Expect When Visiting a Specialist?

Upon your visit, a specialist will typically:

  • Conduct a thorough physical examination.
  • Review your medical history.
  • Order diagnostic tests like X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasound.

Based on the findings, a treatment plan tailored to your condition will be discussed, which may include medications, physiotherapy, or, in severe cases, surgical intervention.

When to See a Specialist?

The decision to consult a specialist should be immediate if:

  • Home remedies and over-the-counter medications offer no relief.
  • The pain persists for an extended period.
  • You experience any of the warning signs listed above.

Yugal Karkhur on Shoulder Pain

Renowned orthopaedic doctor and joint specialist Dr Yugal Karkhur emphasises the importance of early diagnosis and individualised treatment plans for managing shoulder pain effectively. His extensive experience, rigorous training, and commitment to patient care make him an authority in orthopaedics, particularly in treating complex shoulder conditions.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for educational purposes and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. For personalised healthcare recommendations, please consult a specialist physician. The results of treatments vary from person to person.